Nebraska’s tourism board masters the art of the underwhelming slogan

Farmers are staring down a tough spot.
Farmers are staring down a tough spot.
Image: AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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We live in overwhelming times. The news is fake, politics is a tawdry 24-hour reality show, brands act like our friends, and our friends act like brands.

Blessedly, the great state of Nebraska wants no part of this. In a new tourism slogan announced this week, the Cornhusker State wants visitors to know that, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”

The self-aware slogan will replace the state’s “Nebraska Nice” moniker, which was retired in 2015. The new message is intended to be honest about Nebraska’s selling points, as well as its shortcomings.

For the past four years, Nebraska has ranked last when it comes to states that travelers most want to visit, according to research from travel marketing research firm MMGY Global. As the chair of the tourism commission said in a statement, “We discovered that we can’t offer something to everyone — but to those that we can, this campaign speaks to their sense of adventure and discovering what we as Nebraskans are all about.”

So what is Nebraska about? Well, it’s famous for its “flat, boring landscape,” corn and wheat fields, as well as “a way of embracing the not-so-obvious bits of life.” And now, it seems, Nebraska can add self-deprecating humor to that list. It certainly stands out in a field of tourism slogans that are not known for their subtlety. Greece’s “Greece All Time Classic” reads like something devised for a search engine; Vilnius’ perplexing “G-spot of Europe” campaign certainly got attention, but more for its absurdity than cleverness; and Honduras’s “Everything is here” slightly beggars belief.

Indeed, Nebraska’s new slogan—which will roll out in out-of-state markets in 2019—recalls great, underwhelming missives of lore. Slogans that don’t come with the lofty and aspirational aims of iconic brands like Nike’s “Just do it” or Apple’s “Think Different,” but rather that promise to do no more or no less than what they can. The iconic American “Beef: It’s what for dinner” comes to mind, as does the famous British slogan “Does what is says on the tin,” which has over time become more famous than the brand of deck sealant it was originally created to promote.

These slogans would hardly garner Don Draper’s seal of approval, but in a world where we’re constantly being oversold, being undersold feels like a breath of fresh, Nebraskan air.